DANA WHITE WAS forced to make a dramatic U-turn this week after rather surprisingly announcing that the winner of Shogun Rua and Brandon Vera would fill the number one contender spot in the division.
Fans weren’t pleased that Rua, who was comprehensively beaten by Jon Jones previously, and Brandon Vera, who until recently had been released from the organisation, were next in line for a title tilt.
So the social media friendly UFC president listened to the outcries of the fans and stated that the most impressive performer out of the four light heavyweights on show on Saturday night, Lyoto Machida and Ryan Bader being the other two, would face the winner of Jon Jones Vs Dan Henderson next time out.
Possibilities and permutations of this weekend’s event.
Once viewed as one of the strongest divisions within the UFC, the light heavyweight class is looking distinctly shallow as Jon Jones continues his clear out of all his major opponents. As he focuses on his upcoming fight with Dan Henderson, four men that he has previously dispatched face off against each other in Las Vegas to earn the right at UFC gold.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is perhaps the most worthy of a shot coming off the back of an epic performance against Dan Henderson. Although he lost that fight, his stock remains high and should be strong enough to overcome Vera, who realistically shouldn’t be near a title shot if his recent performances are anything to go by. Although Rua has improved, a re-match with Jones would more than likely go the same as way as their first encounter but a Rua-Henderson re-match would be a much more attractive proposition, if a little unlikely. It’s hard to see how Vera could justify another go at Jones or why he would even want to after “Bones” broke his orbital bone so viciously back in March 2010.
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Lyoto Machida’s air of invincibility has long since vanished but he is still a genuine contender in this division and his fight with Ryan Bader is a lot tougher to call. Machida has lost three of his last four while Bader beat Quinton “Rampage” Jackson last time out. Lyoto is still one of the most elusive and creative fighters in the UFC and Bader will have his work cut out to try and close the distance and get the Brazilian to the ground, his most likely route to victory.
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A Bader versus Henderson showdown wouldn’t be as attractive as a Machida versus Henderson match as two wrestlers often cancel each other out and in a way it would be interesting to see the old school “Hendo” try and break down “The Dragon’s” karate-based style. But the bottom line is that unless Dan Henderson can upset the odds by defeating Jon Jones, this new era of dominance from the current champ looks to be on the cards for a long time yet as he has already proved that he can beat anyone of these men.
In an insight into his thinking earlier this week Jones tweeted: “Out of the four guys Lyoto was the toughest puzzle, Brandon had the biggest mouth, Bader felt the strongest, Shogun lasted the longest lol.” He went on to wish them all luck but is he thinking he has beat Henderson already?